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in combat. >> reporter: the ground breaking decision overturns a 1994 pentagon rule that restricts women from artillery, and other combat roles. now women can serve in those units. >> i think it's incredible news. >> reporter: she gained national headlines when she came out as a lesbian in 1993, and successfully fought the military to discharge her under don't ask don't tell. >> it closes that gap, where we're treated as second class citizens and treated differently. >> reporter: last year, the aclu filed a lawsuit changing the policy that prohibited women from serving in ground combat. >> it's one of the last remaining ways in which the federal government officially discriminates against women, just because they're women. >> reporter: there appears to be one loophole. the decision by leon panetta gives the military until 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women. some combat positions may open as soon as this year. others such as navy seals may take longer. >> saying this job requires a lot of strength. women can't hack it. guess what, a l
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